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Top First Base Prospect Rankings - 2018 Impact Rookies for Fantasy Baseball

Welcome back, RotoBallers. I'll be breaking down impact prospects by position. Today I'm bringing you my top 10 first basemen - MLB prospect rankings for the 2018 fantasy baseball season.

First base is always a challenging position to find rookie stars. It’s not every year a Cody Bellinger and Rhys Hoskins reach the majors. Most teams have a first baseman firmly entrenched at the position, and a lot of the best first basemen are just great hitters who can’t play defense and are shifted to first just to get the bat in the lineup.

Still, there are a few first-base prospects who could prove valuable to owners in 2018 in redraft leagues. So without any further ado, here are the top first-base prospects for 2018 leagues.

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Top 10 First Base Prospects for 2018 Fantasy Baseball

1. Ryan McMahon (COL, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 314 PA, .374/.411/.612, 14 HR, 4 SB, 6.7% BB%, 16.9% K%
ETA: Opening Day

Fantasy owners have always been excited about McMahon. He has demonstrated top-scale power at every minor-league level and calls the Colorado Rockies his organization. The strikeouts though always seemed to limit his upside. However, he reduced the strikeouts to well below 20 percent in 2017 and hit over .300 at both Double- and Triple-A. He also comes with the ability to play first, second and third base, meaning he could be a nice utility player for fantasy owners — even if he struggles defensively at second and third. McMahon looks to be the favorite to start 2018 as the Rockies’ first baseman, giving him the chance to show off his already-impressive power in the most hitter-friendly ballpark in baseball. He has the chance to be a legit Rookie of the Year candidate and a top-15 first baseman. He should be owned in 10-plus team leagues.

2. Colin Moran (PIT, MLB)
Stats: 338 PA, .308/.373/.543, 18 HR, 9.2% BB%, 16.3% K%
ETA: Opening Day

Moran is likely to enter the season as the Pittsburgh Pirates starter at third base, but he will also qualify at first base in leagues, which is why he will appear on both this list and the third base list. He was for the longest time a contact-first batter who couldn’t tap into his power, but he made some swing adjustments in 2017 that scouts are buying into and now looks like he could be a 20-plus home run hitter in the 2018 campaign. His adjustments did not make his strikeouts any worse either and his batting average remained above .300, meaning he could be starting to look like the sixth-overall pick that he was in 2013. Moran is one of the most popular sleepers of the 2018 season and is at this point a worthy own in all 12-plus-team leagues and some 10-team leagues. Jump on the bandwagon before it’s too late.

3. Jake Bauers (TB, AAA)
Stats: 575 PA, .263/.368/.412, 13 HR, 20 SB, 13.6% BB%, 19.5% K%
ETA: Early May

The Rays appear to be heading towards at least a partial rebuild, likely not competing in 2018 and instead dealing away several veterans to try and get younger for the next window to compete. That means young players like Bauers should get a chance at some point during the campaign to see meaningful playing time. Bauers has played a lot of outfield and first base, but with only Brad Miller and C.J. Cron competing for the first-base gig, Bauers should be able to force himself into some starts. The ability to play in the outfield should also help him take a couple starts in right field, especially now with Steven Souza gone. Bauers has enough power to hit 15-20 home runs and should be able to add some stolen bases. He is also a patient enough hitter and makes enough contact that he should be able to hit for a good batting average. Bauers is not an elite first-base prospect, but his playing time and skillset could prove valuable to owners in 14-team leagues.

4. Dan Vogelbach (SEA, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 541 PA, .290/.388/.455, 17 HR, 3 SB, 14.0% BB%, 18.1% K%
ETA: Opening Day

Vogelbach seems to crush minor-league pitching every season, but that has never really translated to a role in the majors. He posted another solid 2017 stat line, but he was never really given much of a chance in the majors, especially when Yonder Alonso joined Seattle. But now, Vogelbach could start in the big-leagues to begin the season in a platoon at first base and designated hitter with Ryon Healy, Nelson Cruz and Mike Ford. That is a lot of at-bats to spread around, but the slugging first baseman could carve out a role if he continues his hot start to spring training. Owners in deep/AL-only leagues could benefit from Vogelbach even in a limited role given his power and potential to hit for a respectable average.

5. Ronald Guzman (TEX, AAA)
Stats: 527 PA, .298/.372/.434, 12 HR, 4 SB, 8.9% BB%, 16.1% BB%
ETA: Late April

Guzman has never been a thrilling first-base prospect, consistently underwhelming while somehow also simultaneously producing. His 6-foot-5, 205-pound frame has had scouts convinced for years that he will develop at least 20-homer pop, but he just hasn’t. For the most part, Guzman has always been a great contact hitter and should be able to hit for a solid average. But he just hasn’t been able to put the kind of loft in his swing he needs to tap into that raw power. He is major-league ready and make the roster and start at first base with Joey Gallo shifting to designated hitter, but the power will play a major role in whether he is able to be more than just an AL-only add.

6. Peter Alonso (NYM, AA)
Stats: (from A+) 346 PA, .286/.361/.516, 16 HR, 3 SB, 7.2% BB%, 18.5% K%
ETA: Late July

No one in the fantasy baseball industry liked right-handed first base prospects. There just was not enough of a track record to buy into them. But then Rhys Hoskins came along, and now Alonso has rode the hype train to being considered a solid fantasy prospect. Alonso does not strike out much and walks at a solid rate with plenty of thunder in his bat. He has also hit for a decent average in the minors, but his power is what he is known for. Alonso is likely not the next Hoskins, but if Dominic Smith continues to underwhelm, Alonso could at least have a shot this season at stealing some at-bats. If nothing else, he stands a decent shot of fighting for a weak-side platoon spot with Smith later in the year. He could be a solid NL-only add if that is the case, and could have more value if he supplants Smith late as the starter at first.

7. Bobby Bradley (CLE, AA)
Stats: 532 PA, .251/.331/.465, 23 HR, 3 SB, 10.3% BB%, 22.9% K%
ETA: Early August

Bradley’s power is undeniable. He is one of the best power-hitters in the minors and has the chance to produce at a similar level in the majors. For a while though, the strikeouts were a major concern. But he lowered his strikeout rate from nearly 30 percent in 2016 by 7 percent to a much more manageable 22.9 percent in 2017. As a result, the average improved 16 points. He is starting to develop into a more well-rounded hitter, which is a great sign for dynasty owners. Redraft owners might not have a chance to reap the rewards this season unless Yonder Alonso struggles or is injured, but Bradley’s power means he has to remain on the radar throughout the campaign.

8. Matt Thaiss (LAA, AA)
Stats: 221 PA, .292/.412/.388, 1 HR, 4 SB, 16.7% BB%, 22.6% K%
ETA: Late June

Thaiss has made swift work of the minor leagues, but that was sort of expected. Coming out of the University of Virginia, the former catcher was expected to hit at nearly every level he played at. Now he is enjoying a strong spring training and is making a push for a potential spot on the big-league roster. He is a hit-first batter without a ton of power, but scouts believe there is enough raw pop in the swing to eventually make him a 15-20-homer hitter. His patience and ability to make consistent contact with at least decent pop right now ensure he at least would be able to produce something for fantasy owners, but the development of his raw power will be pivotal in ensuring he doesn’t end up as the next Sam Travis. Playing time could be tough for him to find with Shohei Ohtani playing designated hitter this season and Albert Pujols at first base, but Thaiss could force at least a platoon at first with Pujols if he really mashes this season. He could be a solid add in deep/AL-only leagues.

9. Chris Shaw (SF, AAA)
Stats: 360 PA, .289/.328/.530, 18 HR, 0 SB, 5.6% BB%, 29.4% K%
ETA: Early July

The questions surrounding Shaw have never been about his bat. He has hit at every level, and scouts are convinced that bat will translate to the majors. Shaw has plenty of raw power that should translate into 25-plus home runs. He makes plenty of contact, but he will need to improve his plate discipline as he continues his rise to the big leagues. The biggest uncertainty surrounding Shaw is the position he will play when he arrives. He is not fast at all, but has played some left field and some believe he will play there in the majors. With Brandon Belt at first base in San Francisco, Shaw will have to come up as a left fielder. An injury to Belt would immediately have Shaw rise up to the majors. He could fill in the outfield if the Giants can’t get production out of their third outfielder, but for now it appears he will be in the minors for a while.

10. Sam Travis (BOS, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 342 PA, .270/.351/.375, 6 HR, 6 SB, 10.8% BB%, 16.7% K%
ETA: Mid-May

There is not a less exciting first-base prospect on this list than Travis. He is a hit-first, first baseman who has never hit for much of any power during his professional career. Travis is about as major-league ready as he will ever be, which is one of the main things going for him right now. But redraft owners are not really going to have much value for him with both J.D. Martinez and Hanley Ramirez ahead of him in Boston. He can ignored in all but the deepest of redraft leagues.

 

More 2018 MLB Prospects Analysis




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